ED Accreditation Update

New focuses: Resources and patient management

What will you do if you only have a helicopter?

To meet the revised standard for emergency management exercises from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, hospitals must determine how they are going to allocate resources that may be in short supply in an emergency situation.

Resources include responders, equipment, and supplies, both ones you have and ones you need, says Jerry Gervais, CHFM, CHSP, engineer with the Joint Commission. In the Hurricane Katrina response, transportation was an issue by itself, he emphasizes.

"For a period of time, the only way in or out was helicopter," Gervais points out.

Another critical element is to test your patient management system, he says. After Katrina, 200 people who had been triaged disappeared, Gervais says. "It was documented they were entered into the process as they departed facilities in New Orleans, but they never were accounted for where they ended up."

When hospitals have to integrate their tracking systems with other facilities on a broad scale, the patient tracking system broke down, he says. EDs need to focus on the intake side of patient tracking, Gervais suggests. "If they didn't identify patients on the way in, there's not much hope of success tracking them on the way out, if that's what it comes to," he says.

The Washington State Hospital Association tackles this issue and others by gathering emergency managers monthly to discuss, plan, and collaborate on individual plans and community response and recovery, says Marianne Klaas, RN, MN, director of accreditation and safety at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle. "We approach solicitation for [Health Resources and Services Administration] funding as a collaborative — not competing against each other, but working together on a defined plan to ensure appropriate resources and training," she says.

While they need to enhance their sharing of key roles and contact information, they currently rely on a hospital web site to gather and communicate this information, Klaas says. "We are always looking to improve patient tracking internally as well as with external resources when loved ones are searching for family or friends," she says.